Jan 19, 2016

Deadly wildfires demand more state funding

Wenatchee, WA
USA
by
Peter Goldmark
,
The Seattle Times
Ken Maple helps put out a grass fire that spread from a neighbor’s property northwest of Omak on Aug. 20. Photo: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times
Ken Maple helps put out a grass fire that spread from a neighbor’s property northwest of Omak on Aug. 20. Photo: Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

While state lawmakers were still in session on June 28, debating whether to increase fire funding, the Sleepy Hollow fire dealt destruction to the people of Wenatchee...

It was a grim preview of the toll wildfire would eventually take across our state in 2015: burning more than a million acres; destroying 307 homes; robbing tribal communities of timber revenue and hunting grounds; and killing three Washington firefighters who were protecting homes on a hillside of Ponderosa pines near the Twisp River. It would cost state taxpayers $164 million.

The destruction of 2015 surpassed that of 2014, when the Carlton complex fire scorched 256,000 acres, the worst wildfire ever in our state. That season cost Washington taxpayers $99 million...

It’s clear our landscape is changing. Extreme climatic conditions have weakened the natural resistance of Washington’s grasslands and forests. More communities are facing the prospect of catastrophic wildfire danger.